ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Brittany

Brittany dog breed
John Walton
Written by John Walton

If you can keep up with the breed, and that is a big if, you have found yourself the perfect companion. The Brittany is a breed well-known for their zest for life and they seem to always be ready for the next best thing. The breed is sure to make even the sternest of people smile, watching them gallop happily around an open field.

They need plenty of exercise and then some. The Brittanys need to be constantly on the move, running, jumping, playing and having a job to do. Being idle frustrates them and, if bored, they may become destructive and hyperactive.

This is actually understandable if you take a short look in their history: the breed was designed for bird hunting and is still one of the favourite breeds among hunters and poachers alike. Their keen sense of smell, stamina, natural hunting instincts and ability to retrieve on land or water, as well as their tolerance to damp and wet conditions makes them the obvious choice.

They do very well in obedience and agility classes, fly-ball, and any other form of sports. Also, if they are exercised enough and are given plenty of opportunities to vent their energy and keep their brains busy, they will make a fantastic family pet. However, due to their high energy levels, they are not recommended for apartment living.

Still, if the owner leads an active life and is committed to involve the Brittany in every step of the way, they might do OK in an apartment. Their ideal living quarters would be a home with a large fenced yard or acreage with plenty of space to run around in.

The breed is loving and affectionate towards their family and is good with children and other pets. They love to spend time with their humans just as much as they love being on the move. A dog from the Brittany breed will do best in a quiet and peaceful home as they are a highly sensitive to loud tones and stressful environment. They also don’t do well with harsh training or treatment. Gentle guidance and loving corrections is usually all they requite.

Breed characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityHigh
Health and GroomingHigh
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog breed group:Sporting dogs
Height:17-20 inches tall at the shoulders
Weight:30-45 lb.
Life span: 12-13 years
Main Highlights
  • The breed got their name from the French province of Brittany where the breed first originated.
  • A very sensitive breed, they don’t do well in a home where stress levels are high.
  • Their keen sense of smell and ability to point out prey during a hunt made them famous among hunters.
  • They are easy to groom, have no undercoat and don’t require much maintenance on their coat. They also don’t shed much which makes them a better fit for people with allergies or asthma.
  • High energy levels, the breed requires plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.
  • In some countries they are still referred to by their original name of Brittany Spaniel.
  • The breed that has won the most dual championships, meaning they excel in both conformation shows and field trials.
  • Can become destructive and hyperactive when bored or left alone for extended periods of time.
  • Easy to train as they are very eager to please their humans and quick to learn new things.
Breed History

They originated in France in the province of Brittany (from where they take their name) sometime between the 17th and 19th century. They are believed to be the result of a breeding between a Spaniel and an English Setter and they were called Brittany Spaniels until the name Brittany was officially adopted in 1982. However, in some parts of the world they are still known as Brittany Spaniels.

The breed was first introduced in France in 1907. It wasn’t until 1931 that they were introduced in the United States and immediately shot to fame. They became famous for their tracking and pointing abilities, hunting instincts, good looks, and friendliness. Due to features and qualities we already described, they also quickly became one of the most popular choices of breeds for hunters.

Today, the Brittany breed is still widely used in the field, as well as the show rinks and could be found in homes around the world as a loyal companion. In fact, the breed is one of the highest ranking breeds in both field trials and conformation shows.

They remain extremely popular and rank as the 31st most famous breed in the world.

Size

The lively breed measures 17-20 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing in 30-45 lb. The females are generally smaller.

Also, there is a slight distinction between the American Brittany and the French Brittany: the American Brittany is slightly bigger and taller than the French Brittany.

Personality and Character

This happy-go-lucky breed is happiest when they are on the move and have a job to do. Some of their favourite things to do involve physical activities such as: running, jumping, swimming, playing, hiking, and fetching. They flourish in active homes where they can be involved in plenty of activities and still remain by their humans’ side. They enjoy hunting and are very good at it, but if you are not an avid hunter, they enjoy being included in all sorts of other sports.

The lively breed is affectionate and they love their family which also means that they don’t like being separated from them for extended periods of time. They are very prone to separation anxiety, in which crate training will come in handy. The breed is also prone to whining and sudden urination when nervous or excited.

The Brittany breed is highly sensitive and doesn’t do very well in a tense or stressful environment. They require plenty of socialization as some of them may be more prone to timid and shy or even nervous disposition. They don’t respond well to harsh training and treatment and do well with a confident and consistent pack leader (represented by the owner).

The breed doesn’t make a very good guard dog as their protective instinct is not so developed and they are not an assertive breed by nature. They do however make a good watchdog, alerting the owner of intruders. That being said, they are not a backyard dog and need to live and spend time indoors with their families.

Without having a consistent vent for their energy and plenty of mental stimulation, they might become bored and destructive. They can become destructive chewers and take their frustration out on your most prized possessions.

They are independent thinkers like most hunting breeds due to the necessity of being away from the hunter and making decisions on their own. Despite that, they are easy to train as they are eager to please and are always excited to learn new things.

Overall they are a happy breed that is excited and enthusiastic about life and new adventures. They love learning and doing new things and their obvious joy for life is contagious. Representatives of this breed are sure to bring happiness and laughter into your home by simply sharing it.

Health and Potential Problems

The Brittany breed is known to be generally healthy and sturdy, but their popularity left them vulnerable to irresponsible breeding. That’s why, as we always recommend, make sure to ask all the right questions and ask for medical documentation before adopting a puppy or even a fully grown adult.

Here are some of the health conditions you might have to deal with when your furry friend is a Brittany:

  • Hypothyroidism- A condition in which the body is unable to regulate and maintain proper thyroid hormones levels. Symptoms may be weight gain, slow heart rate, dry skin, baldness or sensitivity to cold. The condition is usually managed with medication.
  • Hip Dysplasia- A common condition in dogs which occurs when the femur doesn’t fit properly into the hip joint. It may cause discomfort and lameness and the condition is usually managed with medication for pain and in severe cases can be surgically corrected.
  • Epilepsy- A condition found in both humans and dogs which causes seizures. Unfortunately, there is no cause or cure, and is usually managed with medications. Many dogs live with the condition for many happy years without their quality of life being affected.

With proper diet, plenty of exercise and regular vet visits your loyal companion will remain by your side for many years to come.

Care Features

Above anything else, the Brittany breed requires plenty of exercise. As long as your definition of plenty of exercise matches their definition, you have gained a happy, sensitive, and lively companion. It is important to understand that the breed needs exercise and plenty of mental stimulation. This means that you can’t get away with just daily walks or occasional throw of the ball. The breed needs daily vigorous exercise in the form of running, playing, fetching, hunting and all around just moving and having a job to do.

As long as you are prepared to make the commitment to provide them with that or if you are already an active individual and looking to share your interests with a loyal companion, you will be quite satisfied with the breed.

They do great in obedience and agility competitions, fly ball and hunting events. Enrolling yourself in these events will not only satisfy the Brittany’s need for action but will also strength the bond between you two.

All doges require socialization, but the Brittany is dependent on it. So, the sooner you start introducing your puppy or dog to different people, children, other animals, various scenarios, and environments, the better. Puppy kindergarten is an option you might consider, especially if you don’t have the time a Brittany requires.

It will help you introduce your puppy to the world and help them grow up to be a well-rounded dog. Early socialization is very important as they have the tendency to be shy, timid, nervous, and suspicious of strangers. The more activities you and your Brittany participate in, the better and happier he will be.

Brittanys do well with a confident and calm pack leader that can set clear boundaries and reinforce them. Training should be kept interesting, as they are very eager to please and learn new things. Positive reinforcement should be in the form of treats and praise and they usually only need gentle corrections and guidance as they are a very sensitive breed.

Recall training is very important with the Brittany breed as they enjoy running in open fields and need to come back as soon as the handler gives the command. They are easy to teach and quick to learn, and, as long as you keep the training fun, there’s nothing this breed can’t learn to do.

Due to their sensitivity, they are more prone to develop separation anxiety. That’s why crate training is highly recommended as not only it offers them a special place to retire to when tired it also protects your possessions from the wrath of a bored Brittany. Crate training is also a useful tool of reassurance that even though the owner is gone, they will return every time and the dog is not fearful of being abandoned.

Feeding Schedule

This lively breed will benefit from 1.5-2 cups of high quality dog food a day, divided into 2 meals.

Each dog’s nutritional need vary based on their age, size and activity level. All dogs benefit from high quality, no filler or grain, high in meat protein dog food. So, if you want a healthy and shiny skin and coat, then you must make sure the food is right for him or her.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The breed is fairly easy to groom and requires weekly brushing. The bathing is not required, unless you think it’s needed. Their coat is usually flat or wavy and dense and they tend to have a slight feathering on their legs and ears. The skin is loose to protect them in case they come in contact with thorns or burrs.

The common colours are white, orange, liver, or black. Their ears require a bit more than casual maintenance as all breeds who have floppy ears. The shape makes it easy for moisture to be trapped in the ear canal and they need to be cleaned regularly to avoid recurring ear infections.

Generally, their coat maintenance is easy and they don’t shed much. Also, they don’t have an undercoat which makes them good companions for people with allergies and asthma. Although, it is important to remember that there’s no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic breed, and that allergies can build over time. The only way to know for sure if one is allergic to a certain breed is to spend a lot of time with the breed.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The sweet Brittany makes a good companion for children. They are very affectionate and can match their energy levels with the ones of the younger members of the family. Toddlers might find the Brittany slightly overwhelming due to their non-stop activity levels. As with other animals, play time between children and animals should be supervised by an adult at all times. Children should be taught to approach animals with respect and kindness and any ear or tail pulling should be discouraged immediately.

The Brittany does well with other dogs and cats as long as they have been properly socialized. Pet birds shouldn’t be left unsupervised with the Brittany as they were bred to hunt birds and their hunting instinct is very strong.

This kind, intelligent breed will make a great addition to an active family as they can keep up with the best athletes in the family and will probably outdo their owners. As long as they are provided with plenty of daily exercise and mental stimulation, they will make a loyal and an amazing four-legged friend.

They are sensitive and loving and don’t like to be left by themselves for longer than necessary. That’s why, some specialists, recommend to get two Brittanys. This way, they will keep each other’s company.

It is encouraged to enrol them in obedience and agility classes to keep their legs running and their brains thinking.

Their enthusiasm for life is contagious and everything they do, they do with great joy and excitement. Adding a Brittany to your life will not only get you off the couch and active but it will also make you appreciate the little things and the true joys of life. As long as you can commit to their exercise needs, you are sure to gain a wonderful companion for many years to come.

So what do you say? Do you think a Brittany would be a good fit for you and your family? Please let us know in comments.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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